I wrote the following code which transforms a nested data structure

(def board [[{:mine true}             {:warn 1 :explored true} {:explored true}]
           [{:warn 1 :explored true}  {:warn 1 :explored true} {}              ]
           [{}                        {}                       {:flag true }   ]])

into a printable form and prints it

(("[ ]" "[1]" "[E]") ("[1]" "[1]" "[ ]") ("[ ]" "[ ]" "[F]"))

The functions for the transformation are the following:

(defn cell->icon 
  (letfn [(cell->str [v] (format "[%s]" v))]  
    (if (:explored cell) 
      (cond (:mine cell) (cell->str "M")
            (:warn cell) (cell->str (:warn cell))
            :else        (cell->str "E"))
      (cond (:flag cell) (cell->str "F")
            :else        (cell->str " ")))))

(defn board->icons
  (map (partial map cell->icon) board))

So far so good (if you have any recommendations for a nicer approach though, do not hesitate to mention).

The function which I don't like though is the following:

(defn print-board
    (map println
       (map (partial clojure.string/join " ")
            (board->icons board)))))

I don't like to use println together with map since it is not a pure function (has side-effects)!? Maybe I am a bit too critical but I would be glad if somebody could advice me or give a hint how to do it in a nicer Clojure like way.


1 Answer 1


Separate impure IO from data transformations

I wrote the following code which transforms a nested data structure ... into a printable form

Not only does your code transform the data into a printable form, it also prints it.

To better isolate the side effects of printing, you should separate these two operations: first assemble a formatted string, then you can do whatever you want with it -- print it with a single call to println, save it, send it over the network, etc.

(defn format-board
  (->> (board->icons board)
       (map (partial str/join " "))
       (str/join "\n")))

(def print-board
  (comp println format-board))


As a side note, instead of (doall (map println seq-to-print)) it is common to see

(doseq [line seq-to-print]
  (println line))

which is usually what you want, since

  • doseq does not hold onto the return value of println, whereas doall builds up an entire return sequence in memory (important when the sequence is big!) -- which is why your original print-board returns (nil nil nil) instead of nil; and
  • this makes it more visually clear that you are doing something with each item in the sequence, instead of generating a new sequence with map

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